By Sahar Chmais
HAYS COUNTY – The COVID-19 vaccine will soon be dispensed to the Hays County Local Health Department (HCLHD). The county will receive a small allotment of the doses to vaccinate residents.
While residents in Hays County have already received more than 5,275 COVID-19 vaccines, these were only given through personal medical providers or vaccine hubs in Travis or Bexar counties. The first option residents have is to speak with their personal medical provider to determine if they are eligible to get the vaccine at a participating medical facility, including pharmacies, that provides the vaccines. The second option would be to pre-register for the vaccine through the state’s hub system.
“We are coordinating with Austin Public Health in Travis County,” said Tammy Crumley, HCLHD director, “which is a hub, in order to dispense the vaccine to Hays County residents in the Phase 1B category. Bexar County is also a hub.”
Phase 1B vaccinations are given to those who are more likely to become very sick or die from COVID-19. According to DSHS, because Phase 1B provides vaccine to higher-risk people regardless of work sector or status, it will provide protection for a number of critical populations. Critical populations include communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and other chronic diseases, teachers and school staff who ensure that Texas children can learn in a safe environment, special services workers who ensure that those in need receive care and support, workers who maintain critical infrastructure to support the Texas economy, and other front-line workers who are unable to work remotely and so are more likely to be exposed.
Candidates to receive vaccination in Phase 1B include residents who are 65 and older or those who have medical conditions, listed below.
Medical conditions include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Solid organ transplantation
- Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30kg/m2 or higher)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Vaccinating these individuals would reduce deaths due to the virus and relieve pressure on the healthcare system by reducing hospital and ICU admissions. It also reduces absenteeism among front-line workers with a greater risk of severe disease.
According to Crumley, anyone who believes they would qualify under Phase 1B can visit the Austin Public Health website to pre-register. Pre-registration does not guarantee a vaccine or an appointment. The website is: https://www.austintexas.gov/
“Because the vaccine supply is still limited,” Crumley said, “we’re asking the public to be patient and understand that we want everyone who wants the vaccine to get it, but it may be days or weeks before an appointment is available.”
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said the county is prepared to begin implementing the vaccine plan for the general public. But this is a time-consuming process.
For now, Becerra and Crumley urge residents to continue practicing safety measures such as staying home when possible, frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing.
“Trauma affects everyone and COVID has certainly brought trauma to our community,” Becerra said. “No one is immune, and the effects of the virus can hit any family or business. Please be kind to each other.”